Introduction To The Anjani Chronicles
Anjani is the exquisite, exotically featured singer and keyboardist best known for her Blue Alert CD, a collection of elegantly performed songs suffused with evocative lyrics, and her professional and romantic relationships with Leonard Cohen, an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. My own connection to Anjani began in July 2006 when I posted Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, a review of Blue Alert that reflected my captivation with the music. An online flirtation and email relationship between us ensued.
The Anjani Chronicles are a sequence of posts based on the content of my recent interviews with Anjani.
The Anjani Chronicles – Episode IV: Escape From New York
Meets To Live and Die In L.A. Meets Back To The Future
Now, Where Were We?
We last left our intrepid adventurer at John Lissauer’s New York loft, where she had just met Leonard Cohen. The post describing that encounter, The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order, ends with
That meeting led to Anjani performing background vocals on Cohen’s original recording of “Hallelujah,” joining the Various Positions tour as a keyboardist and vocalist, singing on subsequent Leonard Cohen albums, the Blue Alert album, and an intimate relationship between Anjani and Leonard Cohen.
The path to those end points from that first meeting, however, is not a straight line nor is the journey one completed quickly.
But, those are matters for another post.
Welcome to that “another post.”
To this point, we’ve watched Anjani grow up in Hawaii as a talented, music-obsessed youngster lugging a 150-plus pound Fender Rhodes Stage 88 to gigs throughout islands, followed her to Canada for her first full-time professional tour while still a teenager, tracked her to and from Honolulu several times, traveled along with her to Boston for her year and a half of advanced musical studies at Berklee, and sat in the audience as she became a regular in hotel lounge bands in Hawaii. When she was swept off her feet by a New Yorker she met while performing in one of those Waikiki clubs and decided to move to the town so nice they named it twice to be with him, we got on that Honolulu to New York flight with her – and were there a year later when the dissipated romantic liaison was replaced by an arrangement for her to temporarily share the apartment of a musician she had known in Hawaii. Throw in the five years she spent as temporary roommate, the batch of jobs she held during that time playing solo or as backup in clubs, all of which proved more educational than lucrative or career-advancing, the too many jingles she sang to pay the rent, the early stages of her relationships with John Lissauer and, through him, Leonard Cohen, and we find ourselves, along with our songstress, who is still a year or two shy of her 30th birthday, in the latter half of the 1980s.
Now, however, Anjani’s life is about to become hectic.
So, buckle up and stay alert. The route is a rocky and there are some sudden turns. Those of you prone to to motion sickness might want to apply a scopolamine patch before proceeding.
Going To The Chapel – And L.A.
Guess who got married? That’s right. In 1987, Anjani fell in love with and married Robert Kory, leaving New York to start their married life together in Los Angeles where he was based.
See what I mean about staying alert? You relax for a moment and within two lines of text, Anjani has moved across the continent and acquired a husband.
Eighteen months (and one sentence) later, the marriage is over.
But the story of Anjani and Robert Kory is somewhat longer and considerably more convoluted.
The Robert Kory Story
If it didn’t occlude the rhyme, the title of this section would be “The Robert Kory Stories” in keeping with the different portrayals one finds when attempting to figure out the kind of guy capable of bringing Anjani to the wedding alter.
A simple Google search reveals well, not much. Lawyers.com carries this outline of his professional qualifications:
Robert B. Kory (Member) born Nashville, Tennessee, May 23, 1950; admitted to bar, 1983, California. Education: Yale University (B.A., summa cum laude, 1973); University of Chicago (J.D., 1983). Member: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County and American Bar Associations. Practice Areas: Corporate Law; Entertainment and the Arts; Finance; Licensing.
A bit more can be gleaned from a story called Promises of a really big show, which was written by Patrick Dobson, a particularly determined reporter for a publication called The Pitch. From that February 10, 2000 article, I’ve excerpted the following:
Robert Kory is a Los Angeles entertainment attorney. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Yale University in 1973 and went on to the University of Chicago law school. According to various media sources, he became a devotee of Transcendental Meditation (TM), a program of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. … Kory worked for TM in the 1970s, and the program served as the foundation for six self-help books he wrote through the 1970s and 1980s, one of which is titled TM Program for Business People. … His first entree in local business came when he joined Michael Love, Thomas Hulett, and local businessman Gus Fasone in Sandstone Entertainment Group in the late 1980s. The company managed Sandstone and Memorial Hall in the early- to mid-1990s but ran aground financially and had to be bailed out by the Wyandotte County government. Beyond that description, the man behind the curtain is an enigmatic figure loved and cherished by his friends but largely unknown to his critics. [emphasis mine]
OK, that’s a bit exotic, what with the TM and all, but still within one standard deviation of the mainstream, especially given that the mainstream in question flows through Los Angeles.
It’s the tone of this and a few other articles that is ominous. The piece opens with these two paragraphs:
Near DeSoto, Kan., limousines, high-price suits, fancy pictures, and visions of glory and profit line the road Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow once tread. At the end of the road, a man still sits behind the curtain — only we Midwestern rubes have yet to be able to pull back the curtain.
For the past decade, officials at the Oz Entertainment Company, d.b.a. The Wonderful World of Oz, have impressed Kansas legislators and local and state business leaders with expensive renderings, tales of development, and the promise of making Kansas a giant tourist destination with all the big business opportunities and profits that goal entails. Meanwhile, Kansas’ state and local officials salivate at the prospect of increasing their tax revenue coffers. Even so, nearly every local official with an interest in knowing about Oz asks what’s become a standard question: “Who’s the man behind the curtain?” When it comes to Oz “visionary” Robert B. Kory, each layer of curtain is thicker than the last. Kory depends on some very savvy public relations people — and an office staff that pushes pretty pictures of what looks to be a very expensive amusement park — to help him stay under wraps. Moreover, it’s clear Kory doesn’t talk to the media. While trying to run down Kory, I ran squarely into Oz PR man extraordinaire David Westbrook of the high-power Corporate Communications public relations firm. He is an amiable, soft-spoken man who has worked for Kory on the Oz project since 1998. The first call I made for this story was to Westbrook. I called his office as many as three times a day over a 10-day period in an effort to get an interview with Kory.
The remainder of the essay is an exercise in building a case for misrepresentation and perhaps fraud against Kory and his partners, in large part by painting Kory as a man with something to hide.
Otherwise, Kory is referenced in a few Google hits, most of which are listings of the TM and self-improvement books he has authored. An article at Engadget.com, for example, lists him as a major figure behind Deep Light, a venture to produce TVs that display true High Definition 3D that doesn’t require special glasses. There are other bits and pieces here and there on the Internet, but that’s about it, except for those dealing with – well, we’ll come to that in a moment.
“It’s so cool when life comes full circle like that”
So, here’s the situation: Anjani, a woman who extends herself to avoid even trivial conflicts, who focuses on her music and her spiritual core, and who has chosen a career featuring emotionally evocative public performances, marries an entertainment attorney, a profession almost synonymous with intense confrontations, who is secretive to the point of being considered mysterious and has been involved in at least one venture that some have tried to whip up into a scandal. This interesting coupling struck me as one that might be revealing, were one to be, say, writing a series of posts about Anjani.
My repeated efforts to explore this issue were, however, politely deflected by Anjani with remarks about her former husband that were universally and unequivocally positive but ambiguous. Finally, in preparing this post, I emailed the following query:
Re the ex-husband, – what was it about him that made you think he might be Mr. Right? I ask because, although he has been in the TM movement and was involved in entertainment law so I assume he was familiar with your field, most of what I read about him makes him sound very different from you. It seems likely that I’m missing something about him that you saw.
Anjani’s response follows:
He was Mr. Right, at the time. Robert is a very groovy guy, graduated summa cum laude from Yale… sweet, brilliant, ethical, and such a hard worker. So hard in fact, that i didn’t see much of him at all after we got married. So i got bored and returned to life as a gallivanting musician. And eventually he married a wonderful woman and they have two terrific kids. Now Robert is our attorney and business manager; it’s so cool when life comes full circle like that.
Hmmm. My guess is that those readers who did not already know that Anjani’s ex-spouse manages the legal and financial affairs for her and Leonard Cohen may now be suffering literary whiplash.
But, on consideration, one may realize that perhaps an entertainment lawyer handling the big bucks but otherwise routine affairs of a couple of romantically involved singers, one of whom was formerly his wife, may be statistically atypical but is not necessarily dramatic.
No, it isn’t dramatic – unless one is also aware of the near catastrophic financial straits in which Leonard Cohen found himself and which led to Kory’s involvement in his and Anjani’s life.
So, how’s that motion sickness patch holding up?
You’re sure? Because we’re going to be slammed through a time warp in a moment to cover Anjani’s “full circle” reference.
Lorca Cohen and Anjani Play Matchmaker For Leonard Cohen and Robert Kory
As most fans probably know, Leonard Cohen experienced a financial disaster that was some years in the making but which he discovered only in 2004. An admirably concise summary can be found in the May 21, 2006 Guardian article, Leonard Cohen: A troubadour at Charles’s court by Neil Spencer:
Leonard is broke, or to put it more properly, he’s been robbed. You may have followed this in the press, but the drift is, the songwriter was bilked out of millions due him by his former manager, Kelley Lynch. A true femme fatale, even though Cohen successfully sued Lynch (for $9 mil), she has ignored the suit.
It was in the midst of this fray that Robert Kory was hired, replacing Cohen’s former team of attorneys.
Kory’s hiring has been routinely noted in news stories of the court proceedings between Cohen, his former business manager, associated lawyers, and an investment firm. Often embedded in those accounts is an sniggering innuendo, such as in this excerpt from Hallalujah by Laura Bond published June 30, 2005 in the Denver Westword News:
Cohen soon got a new lawyer, Robert Kory, a Hollywood attorney known for his aborted attempt to build a Wizard of Oz theme park on a polluted ammunition plant outside of Kansas City. A former leader of the transcendental meditation movement, Kory shared Cohen’s interest in Eastern philosophy and his taste in women: Kory’s ex-wife is Cohen’s current girlfriend, the singer Anjani Thomas. [emphasis mine]
Well, it could, one supposes, have been worse. For example, the author could have made the insinuations even more blatant by adding something to the ending like oh, maybe a bit of leering laughter and a lewd comment: “Heh, heh, heh, heh – Cohen and Kory both had sex with the same woman – heh, heh, heh.”
The actual sequence of events that led to Kory representing Cohen is less titillating, which may explain why, as far as I can determine, it has never been included in the published stories until now, but it does have its own charms.
Less publicized is the fiscal crisis within the fiscal crisis Cohen was facing. It turns out that within a short time of pursuing the matter legally, Cohen’s funds are so depleted and his lawyers are so expensive that he would soon be unable to pay the professionals charged with protecting his interests.
In the midst of these problems, Leonard Cohen, Anjani, and Lorca Cohen, Leonard’s daughter, are discussing this looming and increasingly tempestuous financial maelstrom arising from the excessive legal expenses.
At that point, Lorca undergoes an epiphany expressed as an innocuous question addressed to Anjani: Wasn’t your ex-husband a lawyer?
Anjani responds that yes, her ex was indeed a member of the legal profession – which is how Anjani came to be phoning the man she divorced 15 years earlier to ask for his professional help.
Consequent to that telephone conversation, Cohen and Kory meet and agree to work together. The ensuing legal battles are brutal, ferociously antagonistic affairs, replete with suits, countersuits, threats, demands, and accusations of blackmail, conspiracy, and worse. As noted in the quote from the Guardian, Leonard Cohen, represented by Robert Kory, prevailed in court although collection of the judgment remains a largely theoretical concept.
Nonetheless, winning a legal victory, even without the attendant spoils of war, beats the heck out suffering a legal defeat.
That win, Robert Kory’s ongoing role in the management of Cohen’s and Anjani’s business interests, and the fact that Anjani continues to speak well of her former husband would seem to fully justify Anjani’s observation that, indeed, “it’s so cool when life comes full circle like that.”
Back To The Past
Pressing reset on the Way Back Machine, we find ourselves, along with Anjani, back in L.A. at the end of the 1980s.
She has divorced and has once again taken up her quest to make it as a professional singer.
As Anjani explained to the interviewer in Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard (The Independent Friday, 20 April 2007),
Thereafter, now settled in Los Angeles, she tried to establish herself as a solo jazz singer. “But nobody wanted to know.” … Sometimes she’d make money playing LA’s jazz circuit, often making not much more than $30 a session.
And this is where we’ll leave Anjani for the nonce. But just in case anyone believes that the tempests are now past for our heroine, I offer this preview – the events that open the next episode of The Anjani Chronicles are the 1994 L.A. earthquake and Anjani’s decision “to live like a normal person.”
I know – it’s one of those weird but true things.
Preceding Anjani Chronicles Post: The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order
Links To All Previous Anjani Chronicles Posts: The Anjani Chronicles – Posts Published